There has only been one instance in my entire career as a wedding photographer that made me sincerely question my desire to continue what I do.
It was last year, it was rainy, and I wholeheartedly felt like we all forgot why we were gathered.
And trust me, it showed in the pictures. In the faces. In the lack of life. In the lack of love.
It’s a sad reality when you are in the midst of documenting what is supposed to be the most vivid reflection of unconditional and unshakeable love. Instead, you are reminded that for some of us, we are hoping for the best wedding, not so much for the best marriage.
I know that expectations are an inevitable reality for all of us. It is not that I blame folks for having dreamt of what their big day looks like.
How it will feel.
How it will smell.
How it will glisten.
How every single thing will be in neat. perfect. order.
How people will react.
How people will post about it.
How it will be remembered.
How it will go down in history of all the weddings of the world.
I remember some of these anticipations, being a married woman myself.
I remember the planning, the anxiety, the mild worries, the temptations to care even more than you already do.
But you want to know what I remember most?
People often assume I love my job.
Maybe I’m just an overexplainer (or maybe this is just me being female) but the answer to whether or not I love my job is twofold.
Do I love photography? Honest answer: no.
I think it’s a pretty cool expression of art and I am extremely grateful that the Lord provides me the opportunity to use it as a business and a ministry.
But… what do I LOVE? I love being with people. I love capturing life. I love exercising my creative heart. I love making people realize the beauty within them in the truest of colors. I love seeing moments of passion and holding them for more than the seconds they exist in this world so that maybe, just maybe, my images can reignite real emotions, real memories, real comfort and real joy in the eye of the beholder.
I love being surrounded by something real.
So, what pains this love for what I do? When the intentions are abused. When the thoughts and expectations of my clients listed above trump the list below:
How he will look at me.
How this love is so undeserved.
How we are all so broken yet gifts like this day exist.
How much sacrifice my friends and family have made to be here.
How I look and what others think are so little in comparison to the sheer joy inside.
How… this day isn’t actually the best day at all. Rather, it is the first of the infinite best, favorite, and memorable days to be had with my significant other.
How nothing else matters.
Because… To be before God, and to hold my one and only, is all I came here to confess, and all I came here to portray.
In this life, it could rain. It could pour more than your faint heart could’ve ever imagined. And you know what? I hope you can find it in yourself to dance in it. Your dress could quite easily get dirty. You’re going to have to dry clean that thing one way or another anyway. Your hair may become disheveled. Bobby pins will surely fall. But are you asking yourself: am I having fun? That one bridesmaid may run late (as we know she always does), and your groom might forget that one thing you asked him not to forget. But by the end of the day, y’all are getting married. And that’s pretty rad. The florist could mix up which arrangements go where. No one else will have a clue. Cufflinks could get lost and the cake could fall over, to which I say, what a story to tell later. Someone could’ve made the wrong turn and show up in their loud car in the midst of the ceremony, and it was your aunt twice removed who show up in all white. And you know what? That’s alright. Life goes on.
But, do you get what I am trying to say? These imperfections in terms of photos, are perfect.
The wrinkle in the nose. The ugly cry. The dirt embedded in the shoes.
It makes the day believable. It makes the whole thing beautiful and honest. It makes your day truly yours.
As a photographer who cares more about the mood of the day, the flow of the laughter, and the authenticity of the expressions on your faces, it is an absolute inconvenience when the dress has to be fluffed to a tee, the make up has to be in its neatest chapter, when that jacket has to be ironed for the seventh time by the mother-in-law. I mean, you do you. I am the last person to say what should be done and how. But if you’re doing any of this out of concern that the photos might not look as nice, let me assure you, you have never been more wrong.
The perfection is not what makes your wedding day memorable. Or important.
The in-between moments are.
It’s in the life.
It’s in the Love.
That wedding last year was a huge wake up call for me. It broke my heart and yet, it also allowed me to incorporate an essential tool in my work. Something that I really should’ve practiced using every single time I took my camera out. I regret to this day for not having had the discipline and the diligence to use it all the times before.
So simple, yet so easily forgotten. I decided from that specific wedding forward, I will do my part and pray for the couples I get to meet and love. From the day they book me on the calendar to the morning of the big day, my prayers are lifted up. It has become my most favorite thing about my job.
My prayer is that your joy overpowers your need for perfection.
My prayer is that the defining moments of your marriage are not determined by the temporary.
My prayer is that when I ask you two to share a kiss in front of my camera, it isn’t the fully-rehearsed, better-side-of-your-face showing kiss that you hope to emulate from Pinterest (please don’t). But rather it is as if I weren’t there, as if it was just a secret moment between you and your beloved, that every time you embrace, you forget any outside prompting… all distractions crumble away… it is as if you were kissing for the first time. As if you were kissing for the last time.
My prayer is that every person that you had invited to this extremely important event was selected out of pure and thoughtful intentions. That they weren’t for the sake of filling up the pews or because they have a heavier wallet than others. Because if the latter reasons are the motives behind their invitations, then surely you will find yourself being unnecessarily self-aware and not showing your true self. The people surrounding you that day should feel like a cloud that lifts you up, not an audience to perform in front of.
My prayer is that you really understand what you are getting into. Because if your concerns for the artificial details truly dictate your attitude and outlook of your wedding day, I worry for you. Out of love. Out of knowing and realizing time and time again that marriage is no joke. And if something as fickle as a playlist or someone’s uninvited date is going to sabotage the beginning of your holy matrimony, you need to check your priorities before it’s too late.
A wedding isn’t a show.
It definitely isn’t a mark of money or reputation.
A wedding isn’t just a party. And it is most certainly not something you want to waste away.
It is one of the most important promises that you can ever make in your life, that just so happens to be in front of a handful of carefully chosen witnesses.
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty intimate. In my opinion, all else is, as Joey Tribbiani puts it, moo point.
A wedding is supposed to be a prelude to a MESSY, up and down, RAW, unfiltered, wholehearted marriage. Let it reflect as such.
Not a preview of some cheap ABC family film that never shows the outtakes.
I will do my part as your photographer. As a business owner. As a friend.
I will remember to pray for you and your beloved. It is my honor and absolute joy. I will remember to ask the Lord to bless such a day, to help us keep in the forefront of our minds what this celebration is supposed to be focused on, and how much work, sweat, and hard love it took to get us here.
I just ask that you do your part, as a soon-to-be married. I ask that you forget what the world tells you of what is to be expected. Be open to life happening and realize that your love for the life ahead of you with your partner surpasses any high or low. Realize that hard laughter can cure just about anything and that none of us are worth taking too seriously.
Just be you. Beautiful you. And accept that. And I can promise you. It will be picture perfect.